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Friends Historical Library Collections Policy

A box filled with file folders, next to a bag of candy, on a wooden table

 Buffalo Friends Meeting deposit, with a gift of delicious "Buffalo sponge" chocolate for the archivists (treats not expected or required!)

Friends Historical Library (FHL) is a research library in Swarthmore College Special Collections with a mission to collect, preserve, and promote the use of materials that document the history of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), its members and attenders, and its principles, such as human rights, peace, and simplicity. FHL was established in 1871, two years after Swarthmore College began admitting students, when Swarthmore served as the apotheosis of Hicksite Quaker higher education. FHL is a resource for Swarthmore College, the public, and the international scholarly community

It is the policy of FHL to acquire records that document any aspect of the history of the Religious Society of Friends from the 17th century to the present. Archives and manuscripts include the official minutes of Quaker meetings, records of Quaker organizations, Quaker family papers and the manuscripts of Friends and associates. The collections of Friends Historical Library also include Quaker books, serials, tracts and broadsides, photographs, pamphlets, and images of Friends and Friends’ meeting houses, born-digital and online resources, and other textual, non-textural, and graphic records. Records are collected regardless of format and are preferred in the format of their creation (whether digital or physical).

While FHL collects broadly, it prioritizes materials on Mid-Atlantic Quakers, Hicksite and Wilburite (Conservative) Quakers, Progressive Quakers, and papers that support research into global Quaker history. The collections contain rich documentation of Quaker social history, women’s studies, Native American history, the anti-slavery movement, social service, and the peace movement, because these represent historic concerns of the Society of Friends.

FHL works with other Quaker and Philadelphia-area repositories to ensure materials are acquired by the most appropriate repositories. Most collections are acquired by gift. Purchases are made only of materials of outstanding importance. FHL will accept official Quaker meeting records on deposit with a signed agreement, including the provision that official meeting records may be withdrawn only with a minute from the depositing body or its successor. Loans and deposits are otherwise not accepted.

rev. 2021